When you’re running on an empty bucket

Ideally, we are supposed to grow up with loving and protective parents that are curious about who we really are, they nurture and support us, they teach us how to protect ourselves and take care of ourselves.

Our caregivers’ voices become our internal voice.

We internalize the way they spoke to us as a way of protecting ourselves.  So if you have a caregiver that is overly critical, cold, or just downright abusive or mean; their voice still becomes our self-talk.

Our caregivers are supposed to fill our bucket; they are supposed to create an emotional reserve and build our resiliency and sense of personal power. If that doesn’t happen, we are running on an empty bucket and therapy can help fill that bucket so you are stronger and more resilient for when other people or the outside world prove to be challenging.

In some ways, it was helpful and adaptive for you to internalize their voice- if you could see what was coming, if you could see what your caregivers or parents would be critical or mad about a head of time, maybe you could avoid their wrath by criticizing yourself harshly first.

It’s almost protective to think, “I am going to be harder on myself and that way, no one can hurt me more than I already hurt myself: it gives us a false sense of control and autonomy.

Rest assured, you are not alone in this struggle.

An EMDR and trauma-informed approach to therapy helps you identify the messages that are no longer serving you in your life and to turn down the critic so you can start cheering yourself on, you can start nurturing and protecting yourself in effective ways that actually allow you to grow and make sustainable changes.

Think of it like this- if your reserve, or your bucket, your ability to handle challenging situations is the size of an espresso cup.  Stress related to your kids. your partner or your job is like a tablespoon of salt.  As you add that salt into the espresso cup, it overwhelms the system- we can’t tolerate a tablespoon of salt in an espresso cup, but effective therapy can help grow your reserve to be larger.

Therapy can help fill your bucket so that it is now the size of a 100-gallon tank and as the salt comes into that.  You have much more energy, power and compassion to be able to handle that salt.  If we can learn to fill our bucket with empowerment and love, we have more resiliency to be able to handle outside stressors with more skill.

Wouldn’t be amazing to be able to stay calm, even in conflict? What a superpower!

When we are running on an empty bucket, we don’t have access to the part of our brain that can stay calm even if we are experiencing sadness, anger or fear.   However, there are ways that can help grow this reserve.

Setting better boundaries (saying no even if it is uncomfortable for example), expressing gratitude towards ourselves and others, learning how to speak to ourselves in kinder ways, taking care of our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits are just some ways that we can fill those buckets to we can cultivate a sense of awareness and calm even in conflict and even under stress.

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